Standard Bank: Russia-Ukraine war makes African free trade more urgent

By David Whitehouse
Posted on Wednesday, 20 July 2022 06:00

Customers queue to draw money from an ATM outside a branch of South Africa's Standard Bank in Cape Town REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Customers queue to draw money from an ATM outside a branch of South Africa's Standard Bank in Cape Town REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

The war between Russia and Ukraine has heightened the urgency of implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Yinka Sanni, CEO of Africa regions at Standard Bank, tells The Africa Report.

The war shows it is crucial to enable African countries to import from each other “rather than relying on Europe,” Sanni says in Lagos. Countries need to “pump up production capacity where they have comparative advantage.”

Research by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in May says that the impact of the war could push Africa into “serious debt distress” and increase inequality as higher food and fuel prices hit the poorest households hardest. Priority actions include reducing Africa’s dependency on food and fuel imports and using AfCFTA as a platform to raise productivity and investment, the UNDP says.